A Cham Muslim man who worked as a clerk for the Khmer Rouge government told the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia Friday that he saw pits filled with bones after ethnic Cham disappeared near his home in Kompong Cham province.
Sos Rumly, who was a young man living in Kroch Chhmar district’s Trea commune when the Khmer Rouge took control in 1970, was handpicked to serve first as a youth chief in his village and later as a clerk in the commune office after the regime took over the country.
Trea village is situated on the banks of the Mekong River and is roughly 10 km from Svay Khleang and Koh Phal villages, where some of the fiercest rebellions against the Khmer Rouge were waged by the Cham in 1975. After the rebellions were put down, Mr. Rumly said, Muslims in Trea were too afraid to speak out about the Khmer Rouge’s increasing religious repression.
“Trea villagers were afraid after …the crackdown happened in 1975 and the Islamic community was afraid of resisting any ban,” Mr. Rumly told the court.
Following the appointment of a cadre named “Ho” as Kroch Chhmar district chief, the situation for Cham Muslims in the area became even worse as disappearances increased, Mr. Rumly said.
In 1978, Ho called around 20 to 30 Cham people to a meeting at the district office and they were never heard from again, the witness said, adding that he later saw pits containing skeletal remains nearby.
“I saw the bones, piles of bones in the pits,” Mr. Rumly said.
Victor Koppe, a lawyer for defendant Nuon Chea, the regime’s second-in-command, asked whether the bones Mr. Rumly saw could have been victims of an earlier Cham rebellion in 1975.
Mr. Rumly refuted Mr. Koppe’s suggestion, stating that the pits of bones appeared long after 1975.
“The pits started to be dug in mid-1978, and after the liberation I saw the existence of the pits, but before that there were no such pits,” he said.